The "combiner" head-up display makes it look as if the information is suspended two meters before the vehicle (Photo: Robert Bosch)

So-called "combiner" head-up displays built by Robert Bosch will be available on a range of BMW Group models, including the new Mini hatchback, the German automotive supplier said.

The combiner system merges the images that are generated by the car's instrument panel with the scenery outside and makes the combined picture look as if it is two meters in front of the vehicle. The information isn't projected on the windshield but is displayed on a small plastic screen placed just before it. The technology can be fitted to various types of car models without any major technical modifications.

Bosch said the new type of head-up display provides easier visual access to the information because a driver doesn't have to refocus as much as with conventional systems. "The driver does not need to constantly switch between looking at the instrument panel and looking at what is happening on the road," Manfred Baden, president of Bosch's Car Multimedia division, said in a press release.

Head-up displays are growing in popularity as prices drop and automakers have to make growing amounts of information available to drivers in a non-distracting manner.

Former Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally, when asked last year what technology would be best able to enhance his company's heavy investment in voice technology, said head-up displays would likely play a bigger role in future cars.